March 7, 2017 - Balfour Declaration an example of move to self-determination

It was the concept of national self-determination that emerged from the First World War that was behind the Balfour Declaration, notes a recent paper published by the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies. The preference for self-rule rather than colonialism was responsible for the establishment of a number of new nation states that had been part of defeated empires, in the Middle East and in Europe. The paper was written by Gershon Hacohen, a major general in the IDF and senior research associate at the Center, which is located at Bar Ilan University in Israel.  The Balfour Declaration was adopted by the victorious allies and later by the League of Nations.

“In view of the League of Nations’ design to end imperial colonialism, the recognition by the world powers – followed by the international community as a whole – of the right of the Jews to a national home in the Land of Israel stands prominent…It recognized their historical and cultural affinity to the land, and affirms their political significance,” Hacohen writes. “It is also highly significant with regard to international law that remains in force.”

At the time the new nations were emerging, the Arab residents of the area saw themselves as part of a “Greater Syria” and demanded that the region be included in the short-lived Kingdom of Syria, Hacohen adds.


The paper can be viewed at

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